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Steve Bruce says just unlucky with injuries but just look at these quotes from his previous clubs

7 months ago

I was going to sit down and write about how Newcastle United striker and all round treatment room worrier, Andy Carroll, was yet again out injured…

Until it was pointed out to me that Head Coach Steve Bruce is likely to be without up to eight players for the trip to Manchester City.

I had my issues with the deal to bring Carroll back last summer and nothing has changed, if anything the last 12 months have merely highlighted the folly of bringing such a crock back to the club, even on a mainly pay as you play basis.

The theory from the club’s point of view is that he would play a handful of games and hopefully the club will benefit from what little time he gets on the field. Cheap and shoddy team building at Newcastle United yet again.

Aside from Andy Carroll, I was scratching my head at how a top flight club could sustain such repeated and crippling injuries time after time to the point that I got a sense of deja vu. Indeed, it was at this point I cast my mind back to around six months ago where I had an article printed on The Mag which highlighted a problem at Newcastle United. It was regarding the then latest injury pile up and quotes that I had dug up (with minimal or no digging) to highlight the point that Steve Bruce can’t handle players’ fitness and injuries.

The article itself contained quotes from various points in his managerial career where injuries had simply got the better of him and swamped his time at whichever club he was at. At first I googled “Steve Bruce” “Sunderland” and “Injuries” and the articles from various news outlets raised an eyebrow. I saw similarities with what was happening at Newcastle just six months ago.

It was when I deleted the word “Sunderland” and replaced it with “Wigan” that my eyes widened and further quotes began to alarm me. The same problem at two clubs he’d managed didn’t fill me with confidence that his time at Newcastle United was going to be any different. If only I had stopped there.

Imagine my horror when I deleted the word “Wigan” and typed in “Birmingham”. My jaw hit the floor. The same sort of problems at a third club he’d managed was now enough evidence to highlight my point that this manager/Head Coach should be nowhere near a top professional football club.

My exasperation was complete when I also typed in “Hull”, “Aston Villa” and “Sheffield Wednesday”. The Bruce friendly media and Newcastle fans that constantly back him can say what they like, their defence is admirable to a point, but doesn’t stand up to credibility or even the most basic scrutiny. Evidence is evidence and you can’t just delete it. It’s there for all to see and analyse, fairly and squarely.

Now I like opinions, anyone’s opinions, but I also like quotes. Quotes get to the heart of the problem and provide that important scrutiny I talked about. It would be silly to have an irrational dislike (or even like) of someone without something to back it up. So with that in mind, here goes:

“The sort of injuries we have are short-term. “They could affect us for the next eight weeks. I’d hoped for a bit of luck when it comes to injuries, but that went out of the window. “We go to Leeds on New Year’s Day in a bad way, but we’ll just have to go and get on with it.”

Steve Bruce, Birmingham City Manager 2004

Right, you can’t just “hope for a bit of luck” with injuries. Injuries need management and that comes with squad rotation and pulling players out of the firing line, NOT running them into the ground like we’ve seen at Newcastle with Alain Saint-Maximin. If it was an isolated incident I could forgive it, unfortunately the charge sheet is long and damning.

“I messed up. I played too many players who weren’t match fit or were only half-fit. Mido was only half-fit, Brown had been sick before the game and wasn’t right, and Valencia had only had two or three training sessions. I put Hugo Rodallega in from the start and then Ben Watson came on after only 19 minutes, yet both hadn’t started for six or seven weeks. With hindsight I wouldn’t have picked the team I did. The one thing you can’t do in the Premier League is play lads who are below their best.”

Steve Bruce, Wigan Manager February 2009

Now let me be clear, it’s nice of Bruce to admit that he was wrong, it’s refreshing to hear a manager do that as it’s very rare but surely Bruce’s reasoning with injuries is basic common sense? If only he had heeded the lesson but sadly..

“I’ve been in the game some 30-odd years now and I don’t think I’ve ever known anything like this, we’ve probably got eleven (out injured), we’ve just got to get on with it, but I’ve never known anything like it. The one thing we’re looking into is, is there a reason why, have we done anything wrong.”

Steve Bruce, Sunderland Manager 2011

I could have spelt it out for him and you would think he was finally getting somewhere with the “Have we done anything wrong?” remark and you’d think he’d remember spells at previous clubs and change his methods accordingly. That is very important, it’s where a manager learns from past mistakes, where a manager improves. No such luck with Bruce.

“It’s not time for excuses but big players have been missing for too long. Too often we’ve got big players out who we’ve paid big money for and there is the problem. Over a period of the season we’ve not been able to cope with the loss of the big players.”

Steve Bruce, Hull Manager 2015

It’s by this point I saw a pattern developing and sadly without much introverted reflection or personal accountability. Now I said that I was concerned when there were instances at the odd club whereby Bruce revealed that his club had been hampered by injury. So imagine my concern (certainly not my surprise) when a further reflection came to light when looking into his ‘performance’ at other clubs he’s managed at.

“It’s b.llocks but what can you do? It [the injury crisis] is what it is. It’s your world’s worst but what can you do? You have to get on with it. It was never going to be easy at this club. I have learned that in 12 months. Someone is going to have to come to the party.”

Steve Bruce, Aston Villa Manager 2017

Can I actually admit something here and now.

Whilst I dislike Bruce, this had now got embarrassing. I never thought that a simple basic ‘googling’ could unearth so much horrifying evidence and that such evidence wasn’t used as a reason not to appoint the manager in question. No matter who he was, surely a little scrutiny would have scotched him off the recruitment list? But finally at his previous club before joining Newcastle . .

“I’m sure most of the supporters are absolutely fed up to the back teeth and think ‘why’. Are we just unlucky or is there something underneath it all? When you see the problems the club have had, it is really obscene.”

Steve Bruce, Sheffield Wednesday Manager 2019

And there you go. I’m through, I could find no more. Mortified doesn’t even cover it. I could maybe forgive Bruce’s utterances in the past about not being a manager familiar with tactics. Kevin Keegan was hardly a tactician, I hardly recall Sir Bobby Robson being brilliant in the tactical department. Rafa Benitez was probably the best tactician we’ve had in my time supporting the club even though the football was quite dour and often resembled a chess match. The one thing Benitez managed as a basic was the injuries and in turn, the fixture list.

Why is it that nobody comes back with questioning as to why these players are breaking down? Are the news media that negligent or simply stupid. I suspect it’s a lot of both. Keeping in mind that this situation has reared it’s ugly head at most of the clubs Bruce has now been at, it’s at a stage where even his staunch defenders and backers MUST realise he is not fit for top level football. The evidence is damning.

If the takeover collapses (looking more and more likely to me) and we are stuck with Mike Ashley’s running of the club, then fine. I’ll be taking a further step back from it as it’s pointless banging your head against a brick wall and following a club that’s so gormless in its running and knowing that the same mistakes will be made time and time again. I’ve long since stopped attending and my vague interest would wane even further if the current incompetent status quo are running things beyond this season. It’s bad enough the opposition trying to beat you but when your own ownership and manager are undermining things, it’s time to pack in.

Giving Steve Bruce carte blanche to run the football side of things was always a worry, simply based on the fact that I believe a manager should have the authority to choose his players. Based on the above evidence and safe in the knowledge that he was instrumental in offering Andy Carroll his new deal, then I wouldn’t trust him to run a bath.


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